Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A weeks worth of posts in one box: Part 5

Today, we have the infielders on display.  I was going to do the entire batting order, but upon review I felt the post would be too long, so I split the hitters into two posts.

Catcher, Pat Borders 

Featured card, 1994 Collectors Choice #60.

Pat played 8 seasons in Toronto to start his career, between 1988 & 1994.  Pat's best season offensively was 1990, when he hit .286 with 15 HR and 49 RBI's.  I always liked Pat because he was tough and could handle a pitching staff.  He was never a great hitter for average as his .253 career average will attest, but for a guy to last 17 seasons in the bigs, his baseball savvy and ability to handle pitchers was unquestioned. 

First Base, Carlos Delgado 

Even though his card lists him as a catcher (1993 Collectors Choice # 4), Carlos will be best known in Toronto Blue Jays lore as maybe the best 1B the club has ever seen.  This is a position that the Jays had been deep in over the years, going back to Mayberry, Upshaw, Olerud and McGriff.  Carlos' 12 year career in Toronto was great; Carlos hit 336 HR, drove in 1058 runs, led the league in RBI's in 2003 with 145 (Carlos finished 2nd in MVP voting that year to Alex Rodriguez).  Carlos also holds the career lead in many Jays categories, such as runs scored, doubles, total bases, homers, RBI's and walks. 

Second base, Roberto Alomar  

Featured on his 1995 Upper Deck SP card # 201.  Robbie is the only Blue Jays player in history to have his number (12) retired by the club (Jackie Robinson's 42 is retired MLB wide...).  For as many things as he did with the Jays, it is hard to believe that his career in Toronto lasted only 5 seasons.  Robbie's career batting average with the Jays was .307, and is still the highest of anyone with more than 2000 PA.  Robbie had several great years with other teams (Baltimore and Cleveland), and was finally rewarded for his great career with a HOF induction in 2011.

Shortstop, Tony Fernandez 

I loved watching Tony play shortstop, those long flip throws from short left field were incredibly fun to watch.  But the 1994 Stadium Club card that is featured here shows him doing what he did best, hitting.  Tony's style of hitting would likely be described as "slap hitting", but for him it was effective.  Tony had 3 tours of duty in Toronto, the first being from 83-90, the second was a couple of years at 3B in 98-99, and finally he DH'd in 2001.  It's hard to believe that he played with 6 other MLB teams, because in my jaded mind I'll always remember him as a Jay. 

Third Base, Kelly Gruber 

1992 Stadium Club # 570 is the card pictured above, but for me it doesn't capture the true essence of how Kelly Gruber played.   HARD.  Kelly was forever diving after balls, sliding head first into bases, and there are many people in Toronto that believe that how hard he played cut down the number of games he could have played, simply because of the abuse he took.  Kelly's greatest offensive season was 1990, when he hit .274 with 31 HR and 118 RBI.  Kelly finished 4th in the MVP voting that year, behind Rickey Henderson, Cecil Fielder (he of the 51 HR season), and Roger Clemens.

Utility infielder, Rance Mulliniks  

I could just as easily slotted Rance into the 3rd base spot, but a lot of people don't know that he appeared at over 200 games in the shortstop position during his career, and he also played some time at 2nd as well.  Rance was mostly known for his 11 years in Toronto as the left handed hitting portion of the 3rd base platoon, which he did to the tune of a .280 career average with 68 HRs while in TO. 

If you made it this far....bless your heart, you must be a die hard Jays fan. 

Tomorrow, the outfielders and a DH....

Thanks for reading, Robert

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